Best Business Ideas for 2022: New Ways of Working

The way we work is constantly changing as we're presented with new challenges. Can you be one of the entrepreneurs tackling these challenges head on in 2022?

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The pandemic has completely altered the way that many businesses work. In the midst of a hiring crisis that has employers scrambling to attract and keep talent, flexible working has become the preferred option among the UK’s workforce.

For instance, a recent collaborative study between Microsoft and YouGov found that over half of employees would consider leaving their company if a hybrid working option was removed.

But new ways of working go beyond giving staff the option to work from home for half the week. Modern businesses are completely rethinking the benefits, training and office facilities that they need to offer staff. And all of this has opened up plenty of business opportunities for savvy startups responding to these trends.

So, how are businesses making the most of new ways of working, and what innovative, revolutionary business ideas will set 2022 alight? We cover some of our top picks below.

Rethinking the modern office

Wenlock WorksSince the pandemic hit, many of us have soured on the idea of five days per week in a grey-walled, uninspiring office space.

With 56% of us reporting an increase in happiness when working from home, it is hugely important that organisations focus on making their office environments as attractive as possible if they’re to tempt staff back in. And that presents some fantastic opportunities for creative new businesses willing to help companies adjust their working environments.

Employers have to focus on their employees' needs by creating workspaces that provide benefits over working from home. This could include a social aspect to the office, or an interior with warmth and comfort – rather than a cold, drab building filled with antisocial cubicles.

Many businesses have cropped up in this space as a result of increasing demand for an alternative office environment, and there’s plenty of room for further innovators and disruptive startups to come.

Business ideas to consider

Office design consultancy

If you’ve got experience in interior design, this could be an ideal project for you. As a design consultant, you’ll be suggesting innovative ways to make a company's office space more functional, more aesthetically pleasing, and more attractive for hiring and retaining staff.

The disruptive influence of the coworking sector – typified by WeWork’s model – means that office designs may see comfy sofas, breakout spaces for mingling and collaborating, and even beer taps, pool tables and foosball in their common spaces. These perks aren't simply needless distractions from the ‘real’ work, but genuine opportunities for networking and the kind of features that will indeed tempt staff to commute in.

One fine example of an office design consultancy is Trifle*, a commercial interior design studio. The business has worked on many projects, including for the parent company of our very own website.

Trifle* collaborates with businesses to understand their values before putting together any designs. For instance, it recently fitted one space in Shoreditch with a ‘garden path’ walkway that travels around the whole office, allowing employees to take a walk when they need a break.

Coworking spaces

Plenty of businesses now want the flexibility of calling staff in intermittently, and giving them creative, collaborative spaces when they are working together. Co-working spaces are an ideal solution, and launching a new one can be a great business idea to meet this moment.

To get started, you’ll either need to buy or lease a property, or work alongside building owners to help transform their vacant spaces into co-working havens. You can make these spaces as ‘boujee’ or as minimalist as you want, although you’ll want the space to be attractive and offer something unique.

One such company that has been excelling in the co-working space is Spacemade. Rather than purchasing or leasing property outright, this company works with building owners to design boutique coworking spaces and private studios, enjoying a profit-share and management fee arrangement with the building owners.

Despite only being founded in 2019, Spacemade has already launched five workspaces, and has another three in the pipeline. You can read more about it in our 2021 Startups 100 list.

Meeting room rentals

When it’s time to call a hybrid team to come together for a creative session or an all-hands meeting, businesses will need a special type of space. Meeting room rentals are the answer, and this is a clever business idea that you can easily capitalise on.

Owning a property that you can transform into a meeting or event space is ideal, but to reduce costs you can work with building owners to design a space that can then be rented out to businesses and event organisers, letting them take a small cut for allowing you the location.

One company to take inspiration from is Wallace Space, which offers several charming locations available across London that can be used for company away days, events and meetings. There's also a team of experts on hand to help you plan your day, and the company even helps you offer catering and refreshments.

In-office childcare

In a dream scenario for hard-working parents stretched by nursery fees, some companies are beginning to provide in-office childcare facilities. Google and Facebook are already offering this incredible benefit, which presents an exciting business opportunity for those in the childcare sector as it trickles down to other organisations that begin to follow suit.

Needless to say, most companies won’t have in-house staff who are qualified to set up and run such facilities. As a startup in this space, you’ll be able to network with office-based businesses, research and showcase the benefits of in-office childcare, and offer qualified childcare and even nursery design services at a competitive price.

Of course, having the necessary qualifications in childcare is vital, as is ensuring you’ve employed a team of top professionals. Positive reviews and referrals will be your greatest asset as you look to expand your operation – Glassdoor feedback on businesses offering such perks could be the free marketing you need.

Trehaus has designed a unique co-working space that facilitates in-office childcare, specially dedicated to parent-professionals.

Virtual reality and augmented reality training

Virtual RealityMark Zuckerberg’s video rebrand of Facebook to Meta may have been a bit cringe, but the ‘metaverse’ is here to stay. VR or AR in the workplace is no science fiction – it’s already the here and now.

A recent survey conducted by Software Advice revealed that 40% of SMEs in the UK now use VR tools to train their staff. A thorough study by PwC into the effectiveness of VR for soft skills training found that 40% of v-learners saw an improvement in confidence compared to classroom learners, and a 35% improvement over e-learners to act on what they learned after training in VR.

Businesses are increasingly intrigued by the potential of VR and AR training, and this means a real business opportunity for new startups offering to develop and run such courses.

Building a VR training empire can be a lucrative business full of potential. In fact, the usage of AR and VR in the workplace is predicted to grow from $829 million back in 2018 to $4.26 billion in 2023.

A perfect example of a successful startup in this space is Virti. This company is using AI, VR and gamification to design training simulations that improve work performance in the healthcare sector. As more evidence of its success, it recently featured fifth in our Startups 100 2021 list of top new UK businesses.

Discussing Virti’s journey, founder Dr Alex Young explains, “My background is in surgery, so we initially launched Virti in a healthcare context. During the pandemic, our tech was used to train thousands of frontline NHS staff in things like using PPE and navigating a new ICU. Once we'd proven ourselves in the health space, we were able to advance into other sectors.”

During the pandemic, our tech was used to train thousands of frontline NHS staff in things like using PPE and navigating a new ICU. Once we'd proven ourselves in the health space, we were able to advance into other sectors.

So how can you take full advantage of this future way of working and build your own VR/AR training empire?

Business ideas to consider

Design training simulations that improve work performance

You don’t have to be a design wizard or VR expert to get started in this sector. If you have experience in a particular industry or profession that you think would benefit from VR training, then why not put together a concept for a training programme?

You will need a number of solid ideas for specific training programmes, and should be prepared to confidently explain these to any VR designers you get on board.

We would recommend testing out the market before you invest in a VR training programme for a particular sector. Launching a minimum viable product to put out the feelers is a great way to understand user feedback. If it is positive, you know you can sell the product to businesses.

Use immersive technology to train staff about health and safety

If you have experience working in heavy engineering, manufacturing, or energy production, why not take that knowledge and turn it into your own business venture?

All you need is the ability to put together training programme ideas, ensure the procedures are correct, and work with a team of VR designers to put your ideas into practice.

This kind of training is incredibly sought after, as it helps to greatly reduce workplace accidents compared to training digitally or in the classroom.

Businesses such as Luminous Group have excelled in this space, as they use immersive technology to help train staff in industrial enterprises, including heavy engineering, manufacturing, and energy production. The tech allows for real-time analytics to monitor staff performance, which in turn ensures employees are comfortable and compliant with safety procedures in the workplace.

Data protection and cyber security

This new era of flexible, remote working has brought about many challenges for businesses, including an increased threat to cyber security – and that means a genuine opportunity for new businesses to train and protect companies and their employees.

According to Carbon Black reports, 88% of companies globally suffered security breaches last year. Lee Wrall, director of managed services provider Everything Tech, warns that cyber attacks are “expected to double by 2025.

QMS International’s CyberSecurity Survey Report identified that 75.7% of business owners felt their business was now at increased risk of a cyber attack due to more people permanently working from home. And, of the businesses surveyed, over two-thirds (41.4%) admitted to feeling uncertain about whether they could quickly identify and secure a cyber security breach.

QMS International’s CyberSecurity Survey Report revealed that 75.7% of business owners felt their business was now at increased risk of a cyber attack due to more people permanently working from home.

All of this makes 2022 the ideal year to jump into the data protection and cyber security game. If you’re tech-savvy, have experience in cybersecurity, or have a revolutionary idea to help reduce the risk of a successful cyber attack, this could be your chance to help protect businesses around the country.

Business ideas to consider

Design new security features to help keep businesses safe

Identifying and creating a product that combats the latest cybersecurity threats is a sure-fire way to grow your business venture, and help thousands of companies in the process.

Having a solid background in computer science and technology will stand you in good stead. But, even if you’ve got a great idea without the expertise, there are plenty of freelance programmers and IT professionals who you can hire to help develop the concept.

A further idea is to take existing digital security measures and refine them. A good example is FilesDNA’s advanced e-signature solution, which uses voice recognition and fingerprint scanners to verify signatory identity.

Mo Sahib, founder of FilesDNA, explains how his tech has assisted businesses in need: “We’ve had clients who previously held off business originating from other countries because they couldn’t secure the necessary operational channels. With FilesDNA, they were able to verify every step of their business, from contractor IDs to buyers and sellers.”

Outsourced IT management for small businesses

Most businesses require IT management in some form. Many may have a dedicated IT department, but some can’t afford such a luxury or won’t yet be at the scale to need one.

Running an outsourced IT service that makes things easier for small businesses is a great business opportunity. Many companies will need to outsource some aspects of their IT, including cybersecurity, data protection and user management.

If you build good relationships with your clients, you can even offer ongoing consultation with them for an additional fee. You can appeal to smaller businesses and growing ones by scaling your offering and price plans accordingly.

“Remember to consider your skills and experience when looking to launch your own business – especially in highly technical industries like cybersecurity,” advises Joel Rennich, Head of Device Identity at IT management company Jumpcloud. “If you have an excellent idea but don’t have the necessary skills to take action, you could always look at hiring or co-founding with someone who does.”

Final thoughts

The way we work is constantly changing, whether that be through the conscious choices of staff, or something out of our control (like a global pandemic).

If you’re looking to establish a business that rides the wave of these changing trends in the workplace, then you need to be versatile and responsive. Be ready to adapt and deal with changes, and really understand the needs of your clients before you offer them services.

Research and understand your field, as new ways of working can get quite technical. And remember that by smartly focusing on the needs of the modern workplace at such a pivotal period of change, you could be positioning your business for years of success to come.

Ross has been writing for Startups since 2021, specialising in telephone systems, digital marketing, payroll, and sustainable business. He also runs the successful entrepreneur section of the website.

Having graduated with a Masters in Journalism, Ross went on to write for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME, before moving in to the world of business journalism.

Ross has been involved in startups from a young age, and has a keen eye for exciting, innovative new businesses. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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